Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 full review
We're still waiting patiently for Xiaomi devices to get a proper UK launch but you can still easily import devices including the firm's latest tablet. But is worth it or should you just go and buy an iPad mini? Here's our iPad mini 4 vs Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 comparison review. See also: 20 best tablets 2016.
Buying a tablet on a budget can be tricky - some really aren't worth even buying no matter how cheap – especially when you want an iPad. Luckily there are plenty of rivals and alternatives which will save you money, including the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2. Here we compare it to the iPad mini 4 to help you decide which to buy. Also see: Best new tablets coming in 2016.
iPad mini 4 vs Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review: Price
One of the reasons you're probably reading this review is you want to save money and the iPad mini 4 is not a cheap tablet. With prices starting at £319 you can save a lot of cash by choosing the Mi Pad 2 which is just £144 from Gearbest.
Although there's free shipping on the Xiaomi tablet, you may need to pay import duty once it arrives in the UK. When our review sample came we paid £26 taking the total to £170 which is still a significant saving.
Another thing to bear in mind is that those starting prices will get you 16GB of storage. However, upgrading to 64GB with Xiaomi will only cost an extra £30 but Apple will charge you £80 for the privilege.
If you are trying to save money then the Mi Pad 2 may be the best choice (read on to find out the differences) but you could also opt for an older iPad mini generation. The iPad mini 3 isn't available from Apple any longer but the iPad mini 2 is £219.
iPad mini 4 vs Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review: Design and build
There's no getting around the fact that the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 looks extremely similar to the iPad mini 4 and previous generations. Whether or not it's intended to be a copy is up for debate but the firm doesn't do itself any favours with the 'Designed by Xiaomi in Beijing' etched below the logo on the back.
What Xiaomi has done a great job of is offering excellent build quality for the price. The Mi Pad 2 has an aluminium uni-body like the iPad mini and there's very little to choose between the two in this area.
It's a small difference but the iPad mini 4 is both thinner and lighter than Xiaomi's rival at 6.1mm and 299g. The Mi Pad 2 is 7mm and 322g.
iPad mini 4 vs Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review: Hardware and specs
On paper the screen available on these two tablets is identical. You're getting a 7.9in display with a 2048x1536 resolution resulting in a pixel density of 326ppi. It's a close call as to which is better but the iPad mini 4 has better viewing angles and colour gamut. Generally things just look better and the Mi Pad 2 doesn't help itself by doing odd things to icons to fit them into an iOS-like square shape.
Inside the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 is an Intel Atom X5-Z8500 64-bit 2.2GHz quad-core chip which has Intel HD Graphics GPU. That's a decent match for the iPad mini 4's own-brand A8 processor which is also 64-bit and has Apple's M8 motion co-processor. Both come with 2GB of RAM.
As the numbers suggest, there's little to choose between them and in a side-by-side race of opening equivalent apps each tablet won about half the time. The iPad mini 4 is going to be a better choice for gaming and more graphically intensive tasks, though, but not by much.
We mentioned earlier that you'll get 16GB of storage for the base price of each tablet and while you'll pay less to upgrade to 64GB with Xiaomi, Apple does offer a larger 128GB model should you feel the need. It will cost you £479 though. There's no Micro-SD card on the iPad mini 4 or Mi Pad so you'll want to pick carefully.
An important benchmark which the Mi Pad 2 wins is battery life. With its 6190mAh battery the tablet lasted seven hours and 49 minutes with a score of 4696 in Geekbench 3. The iPad mini 4 (5124mAh) managed six hours and 37 minutes with a score of 3975.
For your extra money, you do get something on the iPad mini 4 which isn't a feature of the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2. This is the Touch ID fingerprint scanner found in the physical home button (the Mi Pad 2 has touch sensitive buttons). As you probably know the iPad mini uses Apple's reversible Lightning cable and the Mi Pad 2 features reversible USB Type-C.
If photography is an issue for you when buying a tablet both have 8Mp rear cameras although the iPad mini 4's is superior in quality. However, at the front (which is arguably more useful on a tablet for tasks like video calls) the Mi Pad 2's 5Mp camera outclasses the iPad's 1.2Mp FaceTime camera.
iPad mini 4 vs Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 review: Software and apps
On the surface it looks like these two tablets run the same software. However, the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 is actually running a version of Android which looks very much like iOS which is Apple's operating system for the iPad mini 4.
The iPad mini 4 comes pre-loaded with iOS 9 while the Xiaomi Mi Pad 2 has Android 5.1 Lollipop with MIUI 7.0.
For those wanting the smoothest and simplest experience the iPad mini will be the better choice. iOS is intuitive and accessible for those with no experience of using a modern device like a tablet. As is well reported, Apple offers a decent selection of high quality apps.
Although the experience of MIUI on the Mi Pad 2 is similar to iOS, this is a tablet imported from China so users in the UK will need to do some tweaking to achieve a 'normal' level of interaction. Luckily there's Google Play access so this isn't too difficult but may be confusing for beginners.
For example, the built-in keyboard is not great for typing in English so you'll want to install an alternative and the Video app is almost completely in Chinese. We're also not fans of the pre-loaded browser so there are a number of things which need changing.
Xiaomi Mi Pad 2: Specs
- Android 5.1 Lollipop with MIUI 7.0
- 7.9in 2048x1536 IPS touchscreen, 326ppi
- 2.2GHz Intel Atom X5-Z8500 2.2GHz quad-core processor
- Intel HD Graphics
- 2GB RAM
- 16/64GB storage
- 8Mp main camera
- 5Mp front camera
- 802.11ac dual-band Wi-Fi
- Bluetooth 4.1
- Type-C USB
- 6190mAh non-removable battery